Oz The Great And The Powerful Trailer

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Peter O’Toole Retires

After 150 years of being in the acting business, legendary actor Peter O’Toole is retiring.

It’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s stay. So I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell.

Mr. O’Toole was nominated for the Academy Award EIGHT times, but unfortunately never won any of them. He was, however, awarded with the “honorary Oscar” which is the academy’s way of sucking up to a talented actor that they’ve snubbed for over forty years.

You’ll most likely remember him best from the classic, Lawrence of Arabia but Mr. O’Toole has been in at least 70 films, and a slew of television and stage performances. This man had one heck of a career.

Here is one of my favorite O’Toole moments from the film The Lion in Winter 

Get Low

Get Low is a movie I’m betting the majority of you haven’t heard of (because I sure as hell didn’t), which really sucks considering the all-star cast it has for its leads (Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek). The film was released back in 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival and from then on sort of just, well, stayed low as it were. It only played to about 550 theaters, and got a lot of strong critical reception, but that was about it. A good number of critics that supported the movie went so far as to predict some sort of Oscar attention for the performances which, unfortunately, never happened which is a damn shame considering that is the main reason anyone should see this movie.

Get Low tells the “somewhat based on real events” story of a local hermit, Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) who tries to buy himself a funeral party, that he will attend alive. He strolls into town on his mule-drawn carriage, while the everyday citizens spew their rumors about how he “is in league with the devil” or “killed a bunch of people in cold blood” and such. After Felix has been turned down his interesting request, alcoholic funeral parlor owner Frank Quinn (Bill Murray), who doesn’t want to miss out on a chance to take an old coot’s  money, jumps at the proposition! Felix wants to invite the whole town and anyone who has an interesting story to tell about him to his party, and to insure people come he starts a raffle, the winner of which will inherit his land the day he dies.

This is the premise for the first half of the movie, and they really run with it. There are plenty of opportunities for Bill Murray to have his comedic flair shine, and the interactions (although few) between him and Duvall are pretty hilarious. The film quickly shifts from a more comedic tone to a dramatic one with the introduction of the local widow Mattie (Sissy Spacek) of her and Felix’s past relationship, and her deceased sister Mary Lee. We soon find out that there is much more to Felix and that he is being eaten up by a dark secret that he has kept hidden for well over forty years.

It’s all an interesting story that is told relatively well, but the abrupt shift in tones early on, and some of the weaker fleshed out character relationships (Frank’s business partner Buddy, who adds nothing to the story despite the script’s urge to make him seem important) are a few signs of the not-so-hot script. But as I said above, what makes this movie awesome is the performances. Duvall’s depiction of the recluse Felix has so many layers, and he can communicate such strong emotions just through his stares and glares. Even in the first part of the movie where his character is just supposed to be a crotchety old man, Duvall adds so much more to it. The final monologue Duvall gives at the funeral party is, dare I say it, one of the best speeches any character has given on film and all the credit goes to Duvall. In those few minutes you see an eighty year old actor putting in his whole heart and soul, giving a truly career-defining performance. It’s incredible.

Bill Murray slips into the alcoholic, quick-witted funeral parlor manager role all too well. He finds any opportunity where he can make a scene funny, and is the main source for any of the film’s comic relief. The scenes between him and Duvall are absolutely delightful, but as I mentioned above there are just far too few. Sissy Spacek brings an incredible depth to Mattie, the scenes between her and Duvall have such an air of realism that it’s just a ton of fun to watch.

All of these awesome actors and not a single Oscar nod. Pretty sad, as all of them (most notably Duvall) deserved some high recognition for the work they did in this film. But really, who wants an Oscar these days anyway? The MTV awards is where it’s at.

You DAMN right!

 

 

 

Top Ten Movies for Independence Day

It’s that time of year again everybody! Bust out your American flag track suit, a stack of roman candles, and head on out to the closest neighborhood BBQ you can find! Seriously, just walk in! You don’t have to know them, it’s America’s Birthday, damn it, they have to let you in! Or you can just watch a bunch of movies, such as these ten that I have conveniently compiled into a list. They’re not all necessarily movies about Independence day, but they’re all movies that’ll have you shoutin’ “America Fuck Yeah!” Well one of them definitely will anyway…

National Treasure (2004)

Say what you will about Nicolas Cage (he’s Bitchy Queen’s favorite actor, but we’ve come to realize not everyone holds the same amount of respect for him) this is a fun movie. Using the history and mystery of our great America as it’s main plot, it’s got lots of patriotic sights to see and a fair amount of action as well. All in all a fun ride!

1776 (1972)

I’ll admit, this movie isn’t too good. I’ve heard the original stage version is much better, but I’ve never seen it so I can’t compare the two, HOWEVER where else will you get to see Mr. Feeney singing and dancing as John Adams? I mean come on, for God’s sake John Sit Down!

 

Rocky IV (1985)

It’s hard to make a more patriotic movie than this: Rocky Balboa punches the entire Soviet Union in the face. What isn’t to like? In all seriousness, it’s a good film with Stallone at his best and will make a great 4th of July flick. He is draped in the American flag on the cover, after all.

 

Rambo II (1985)

I ain’t done with Stallone just yet! While the first Rambo isn’t exactly the best “Go USA” type of movie (what with the whole America’s poor treatment of veterans and everything) First Blood: Part II is as America as you can get! Shootin’ up Soviets and Vietnamese.

 

Team America: World Police (2004)

I don’t really think I need to say anything other than this:

JFK (1991)

This is more of a political scandal sort of flick, more than one celebrating patriotism but it does revolve around one of the biggest national tragedies: the assassination of JFK. Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Costner star in this controversial Oliver Stone flick, add in an amazing performance of Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald and you’ve got yourself one heckuva a crime drama.

Air Force One (1997)

Hey, speaking of Gary Oldman why not watch him and Harrison Ford duke it out in typical Soviet V. USA style? There ain’t nothin’ better than watching President Harrison Ford kicking some terrorist ass!

All the President’s Men (1976)

This film doesn’t exactly cover one of America’s, uh, finer moments but it is an interesting story about two Washington Post reporters uncovering the details of the Watergate scandal. With two amazing performances from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, you don’t wanna miss this one.

A League of Their Own (1992)

You can’t go wrong with a movie all about America’s favorite pastime, and A League of Their Own is one of the finest baseball movies ever made. An amazing performance from Tom Hanks as the alcoholic manager Jimmy Dugan of an all female professional baseball team, The Peaches is reason enough to check this one out. But the rest of the performances in this movie are all fantastic, and is an all-around great story!

Independence Day (1996)

Well with a name like that it’d be hard to not finish off this list. For real though, Will Smith and the USA teaming up with the rest of the world to blow the crap out of some aliens. This is the one you’ll all be watching.

Happy Birthday Lindsay (Slow News Day)

July 2nd! The birthday of everybody’s beloved child-star turned crack-head, Ms. Lindsay Lohan! In honor of Bitchy Queens’ favorite actress, we’ve decided to give you all a glimpse of this phenomenal star’s transformation over the last 25 years (note, the music in this video is pretty ridiculous, like dramatic B-movie horror music).

Holy Bat-Ramadan!

Quick, what’s the most anticipated film this summer? What’s that? No, besides The Avengers. Hmm? No, not Magic Mike. That’s right, The Freaking Dark Knight Freaking Rises!

Starring Freaking Batman

Batman and movie fans alike will get to enjoy what is more than likely going to be the best movie made by humans, all over the globe July 20th. Batman and movie fans all over the globe, except the United Arab Emirates or other countries in that area, such as, oh I dunno, the country where I’m spending the majority of my summer. It won’t find release over here until nearly a month later, and the main reason for this being that July 20th falls on the first day of Ramadan, or the first month of Islamic fasting. Basically Ramadan is a time where practicing Muslims don’t eat or drink during the daylight hours, pray more often than usual, and is a time for them to show patience, sacrifice, and submissiveness to God. During this time, Muslims are expected to avoid any irreligious and obscene sights and sounds, so I suppose any sort of film that isn’t about God, or in this case The Freaking Dark Knight Freaking Rises. 

The main decision behind this delay comes out of Shooting Stars, the film’s regional distributor. The claim is that it is delayed “Out of respect for the UAE and Islamic customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan”. So around this time of year, the movie theaters are treated with all sorts of re-release goodies instead. Just take a look at a couple of these A-List titles:

  • The Big Wedding 
  • Recoil
  • Dancing Ninja 

I actually had to look Dancing Ninja up. Apparently it’s about “An orphaned boy who dreams of being a ninja that arrives in Hollywood to try and find his birth parents, where he gets mixed up in a crime.” Not sure when the dancing comes in. Also it’s got David Hasselhoff and some kid from Halloweentown High. 

“But wait!” you shout, “if you can’t watch films during Ramadan, why are the movie theaters even open? This sounds more like a ploy from the movie distribution companies to not lose money on a big, mega-hit blockbuster, more than out of respect for religious worship!” Well said! And it appears you wouldn’t be the only person to think that way, there is apparently a pretty big uproar from fans in the area that have started several online petitions to bring Batman to the UAE July 20th. While it’s great to see multi-cultural bat-heads rally together to bring this gem to movie screens at a reasonable time, I don’t have very high hopes. The distribution companies, much like the non-geeks of the world, have the same “get the hell over it, you’ll see it in a month” mentality. They just don’t understand the injustice of the issue! They don’t care that we’ll all more than likely know how the movie ends before we even get a chance to see it (stupid blogs!) So keep up the online petitions, let your voice be heard, just know that despite your best efforts you’ll more than likely be watching this:

One for the Money, or a Fan’s Wet Dream

I had been a fan of the books for four years.

I had waited patiently for at least three years.

I had devoured eighteen books, four novellas, and a short story.

The project had been eighteen years in the making.

Finally, after the book was published in 1994, One for the Money was released in theatres January 27, 2012, and I almost peed in my seat out of pure happiness for what the Gods had bestowed upon me.  If you really want to sum up how emotionally attached (potentially to an unhealthy state?) I am to this film, take a minute to look and see how many times I have personally talked about movies on this site.  That’s right, for all two of you that decided to take a gander: Zero.  I haven’t bothered.  And why?  Because One for the Money wasn’t fucking released until just now.  That’s why.

For those of you not familiar with the books, and if you aren’t then you need to go cry in the corner and think about all the things that are wrong with your life, One for the Money is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich- the patron saint of writing a shit-ton.  This information is already listed above, but it needs repetition:  this woman has written eighteen books in the same series along with four novellas and a short story, because she loves me.  Or maybe because she likes the series, or maybe just writing in general.  I like to think that she does it because she loves me.  Right, Janet?  I’m sure she reads this, you know.

But I’m not on here tonight to praise St. Janet.  I’m on here because this movie rocked, and everyone that still religiously looks at this blog needs to know that.  Now, so far actual critics (also known as unhappy pricks who cry every time they pass a mirror- Also, they smell) have picked apart this film, to the point that it currently has a 0% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.  That’s pretty rough for any movie.  Strap on the fact that this movie is about a female bounty hunter whose only prior experience is selling lingerie at Macy’s and I have no idea what the hell is going on.

Oh, wait.  I do.

Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, a new bounty hunter whose only prior experience is selling lingerie at Macy’s.  Following so far?  She’s strapped for cash, so she agrees to take on a few failure-to-appears, and the hilarity rolls out.  Also, the guy she’s trying to hunt down happens to be Joe Morelli, a high school boyfriend that she ran over with her car once.  Oh, yeah.  Shit just got real.  And if she can bring Joe Morelli in, she gets $50,000 and a pat on the back for doing it in heels.  I should write chick-flicks.

Now, the movie itself is not a masterpiece.  Yeah, it has tons of flaws, including a beginning that made me think it was going to be the worst thing I had seen since I dreamt I was being attacked by sausages in my sleep.  But the film has something that you can’t quite fully comprehend.  Maybe it’s the setting or the costumes or the cleavage.  Hell, maybe even the lighting designer was just that good.  Part of me, though, wants to put a lot of praise on the cast.

I’ll be one to admit, when someone told me that it was going to be Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, I was outraged.  Then I asked for clarification on who it was and realized the person had not said Sam Kinison.  That would have just been ridiculous.  I mean, he’s a man AND dead.

After Googling to find out who the hell Heigl was, I felt better about the whole thing, and she works in the film.  I found myself getting slightly annoyed with her voiceover work at parts, but she made up for it with the fact that her acting was close to how Stephanie is portrayed in the book.  She’s naïve and not totally sure of herself, but she’s pissed and she has a job that she needs to do.  It worked, and, in the end, you can’t help but find her charming, just like the Stephanie that’s been fleshed out over the years.

Top this off with the fact that the cast also includes Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur, the grandmother you would have if she stopped taking her medication and opened a few bottles of whiskey, and you’ve got the start of a good supporting cast.  I was just happy to see Debbie Reynolds doing something that didn’t have Halloweentown in the title.  Then there’s Debra Monk playing Stephanie’s mother, giving a performance that, again, just seems to fit.   Jason O’Mara, though completely different in look and even style to how I had imagined Morelli brought a different flare to him that made him more human than I had imagined, and I liked that.  It might have had something to do with the fact that I was watching an actor rather than reading a page, but whatever.  Don’t judge me.

The supporting cast has two big stars, though, that deserve special notice.  Ana Reeder as Connie, the file clerk at the bonds office was a bit of brilliance.  When you first see her in the bonds office you’re not quite sure what to think of her.  Sort of like a woman that you need to give a few shots to before she’ll loosen up and tell you the tales of her life at sea.  But it just makes her character even more funny and interesting, and not another smudge on the wallpaper of this film, like she could have easily been.  The other notice goes to Sherri Shepherd.  Playing a hooker must be interesting.  Playing the hooker that is Lula must be a bonkers experience.  From the way she holds herself in those skin-tight outfits, to the careful delivery of her lines, Sherri Shepherd walks away as the most memorable and the best part of the cast.  She has wit and heart, and that’s something that makes the middle of the this film have a bit of a tragic side.

Alright, so I’ve gone ahead and praised this film, but there’s one last thing about it that is the secret to the success of this film.  It’s that the soul of this film is the soul of the book.  The two were written in the same style, and the movie never has a problem using the book as its one and only guide, keeping the sort of things that made the book so damn popular to begin with.  The writers even use tiny things to keep the avid readers of the books smiling, letting us see the world of Trenton that Evanovich has slowly created in the past eighteen years.  That’s right, writers, I saw the Pino’s number listed in Stephanie’s phone- wink, wink.

Most importantly, though, they keep the heart and soul of Stephanie herself.  Stephanie is a character that a lot of people can relate to.  Helpless in most situations, but not one to give up just because things aren’t easy for her.  Mix in some humor and hookers and you have a golden, though slightly imperfect, film.

The Oscars Are Over! The Oscars Are Over!

Well there you have it folks, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Wasn’t that just…something? The night was full of Hollywood’s sexiest stars and starlets, victories and disappointments, the awkward comedy styles of Anne Hathaway and James Franco (complete with lesbian jokes!), and uh Kirk Douglas. I didn’t expect James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s hosting to be anything less than it was – uncomfortable, although their opening bit where they traveled through all the best picture nominees was mildly entertaining, if only because of Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman.

Anne Hathaway sang a song in a tuxedo and James Franco came out in a dress, they tried being clever with “original songs” from some of the year’s films which were just auto-tuned conversations, and the show closed on fifth graders singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. If we learned anything this year at the Oscars it’s that Kirk Douglas needs to be the next host.

While the hosting was the lowest of the lows this year, there were a good number of highs as well such as the tribute Billy Crystal had for Bob Hope, the tribute to all the great men and women of the industry who passed away this year, and the set design for the stage this year was purty dang cool.

But enough about that crap, time for the winners!

Best Picture – The King’s Speech

Best Director – Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech

Best Actor – Colin Firth for The King’s Speech

Best Actress – Natalie Portman for Black Swan

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale for The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo for The Fighter

  • Achievement in art direction- Alice in Wonderland Robert Stromberg and Karen o’hara. Production design and set decoration, respectively.
  • Achievement in cinematography-Inception, Wally Pfister
  • Animated short film-The Lost Thing. Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann.
  • Animated feature film-Toy story 3
  • Adapted Screenplay- The Social Network
  • Original Screenplay- The King’s Speech
  • Foreign Language Film- In a Better World
  • Original Score- The Social Network
  • Excellence in Sound-Inception
  • Sound editing-Inception
  • Makeup-Wolfman
  • Costume Design-Alice in Wonderland
  • Documentary Short Subject –Strangers No More
  • Live Action Short Film-God of Love
  • Documentary Feature- Inside Job
  • Visual Effects-Inception
  • Film Editing- The Social Network
  • Best Original Song- Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” Toy Story 3

Now if any of you who actually read this recall my last post about the Oscars you’ll see that I was only off on one of my predictions, and I couldn’t be any happier about it. I assumed The Social Network would win best picture judging only off of who well it performed at the Golden Globes, but was pleased to see it beat by The King’s Speech because, as I said earlier, I didn’t think it was that hot. I was also glad to see Inception do such a good job of cleaning up with a total of four wins and couldn’t have been any happier with Natalie Portman’s best actress win.

 

 

The Bestest – Brick

Brick (2005)

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nora Zehetner, Lukas Haas, and Emilie de Ravin.

The second movie to make mah bestest list is Brick, the 1930s detective film set in a modern American high school starring a pre-500 Days of Summer Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The film opens on the hero, Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) discovering the dead body of his ex-girlfriend, Emily, in a ditch. Through a brief flashback we learn that Emily had called him earlier for help; he stands at a lonely payphone booth as a passing car (or rather the people in it) cause her to hang up and flee. A cigarette butt is sent flying from the passenger window, the first of many clues Brendan uses to piece together her murder.

From this point on Brendan transforms into a classic noir gumshoe, tracking down Emily’s movements through a seedy high school drug ring with the help of his mysterious brainiac ally, aptly dubbed The Brain. If any of this sounds remotely familiar, that’s because it absolutely is. The plot of Brick is nothing particularly different and special, but the way it is told is refreshingly unique.

The characters in this film are less that and more character types. For instance, Brain is a role typically seen as a newspaper reporter hanging around dark bars or dreary alleyways, which Rian Johnson adapts into a typical high school nerd leaning against the back wall of the school or hiding in his private nook in the library. These archetypes keep coming as Brendan ignores threats and strikes deals with the Principal (a role usually filled by police captains in the old detective films), fights the seductions of tough and sassy dames (in the form of the “queen” of the drama department and the popular girl on campus), battles a crippled crime kingpin, and loud-mouthed tough guys whose bark is bigger than their bite (the star of the high school football team, and dope head junky). These adaptations not only make the dissonance between the character’s actions and their modern portrayal all the more interesting, but allow the noir style to be more accessible to modern audiences.

I own that duck cane. Just sayin'.

This isn’t the first modern film that’s combined and adapted elements of noir, just look at Reservoir Dogs, but what sets it apart from the others is that it sets the attitudes and dialogues of classic detective fiction in a modern American High School. The characters all speak like they’re straight out of a Dashiell Hammett novel with lines like, “No, the bulls would gum it. They’d flash their dusty standards at the wide-eyes and probably find some yegg to pin, probably even the right one.”

None of the dialogue throughout is like anything seen in the countless other movies set in high schools, nor can it in any way be described as “modern”. Which is exactly what makes it so mesmerizing. The combination of a modern setting and updated character types with old detective dialogue creates such an interesting dynamic that is more and more entertaining each time you watch.

If you’re unfamiliar with the genre that Brick draws such heavy inspiration from, don’t worry. This film’s got just enough indie quirks in it to keep you interested and if none of that floats your boat then at least watch it for the stellar performances. JGL is flawless as the brooding Brendan, completely embodying the archetype both physically and emotionally, and the rest of the cast all step up to plate, delivering a set of engaging performances.

While the plot may not be anything different, it’s told in such a creative and unique way that you forgive it for that fault and enjoy the noir-iness (made that one up). Find this movie now and go watch it. Please? Thanks.

JIGGLE